You've worked hard to establish your professional reputation as an audiologist. You spent at least four years earning your undergraduate degree, four years earning your doctor of audiology degree, and hundreds of hours meeting the necessary supervised practice hours to obtain your license. Since then, you may have spent thousands of hours building a practice and a professional reputation. It can be frightening if you're now facing an allegation of professional misconduct. An investigation and possible disciplinary action against your audiology license can blemish your professional reputation and even result in the suspension or loss of your license and your career.
If you're facing an investigation, it isn't something you have to handle alone. A skilled lawyer who is well-versed in handling professional licensing defense can help you through the process, including an investigation and hearing, negotiating a consent decree, or handling an appeal. You need someone protecting your rights, and attorney Joseph D. Lento and the skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can help nationwide.
Triggering an Audiology Board Investigation
Audiologists are highly regulated by state boards, who ensure that everyone working in your profession has the proper education, training, and licensing to be admitted to the practice. Your state board is also responsible for creating and enforcing professional codes of conduct and ethics for healthcare providers like you. They will also intervene if someone alleges misconduct or claims an audiologist violated state regulations. Some of the most common accusations that can trigger an audiology board investigation or disciplinary action against you include:
- Fraud or misrepresentation, including insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare fraud, overbilling, billing for procedures not performed, or upcoding to get paid for more expensive procedures than you performed,
- Incompetence or gross negligence, including mistakes or malpractice that result in serious or permanent injury,
- Alcohol or substance abuse,
- Sexual misconduct, including inappropriate relationships with patients, sexual harassment, or making unwanted sexual advances,
- Criminal arrests or convictions, including felonies and alcohol or drug offenses.
Licensing Board Investigation and Disciplinary Action
The exact process for each state's board investigation will vary somewhat but will follow the same general procedure, including a complaint, investigation, formal hearing, and appeal.
- Complaint: The process begins with a formal complaint against you to the licensing board alleging a violation of your professional or ethical responsibilities. A complaint can come from a patient, co-worker, colleague, employer, or healthcare facility.
- Investigation: The board will review the complaint to determine if it has merit on its face. They may ask you for additional information in writing or ask for supporting documents. As a professional license holder, you will have an obligation to cooperate, but you should also consult an attorney to protect your rights.
- Consent Decree: If the board believes the allegations against you have merit, they may try to negotiate a consent decree with you. Sometimes, this may be the best option if you believe you bear some fault. However, you should consult an experienced professional licensing defense attorney before agreeing to anything.
- Formal Hearing: If you disagree with a consent decree, the board may proceed with a formal hearing. Depending on your state, they may first make a formal complaint against you with the state. Then, a formal hearing will take place before an administrative law judge (ALJ) before they decide whether to impose disciplinary measures against you.
- Appeal: If the ALJ finds against you, you'll have a limited period to appeal to a court. However, a court won't rehear the entire matter but will only review the case for factual and legal errors.
Possible Punishments From the Board
The consequences of an adverse finding against you by your licensing board can be serious. You can lose your license to practice as an audiologist and, along with that, your career. But you can also face less serious punishments, including:
- Suspension of your license for a set period, sometimes with clearance from the board before you're reinstated,
- A public or private reprimand,
- Limitations placed on your license, such as professional supervision,
- Requiring that you take continuing education classes to fill gaps in knowledge or training, and
- Imposing conditions on keeping your license, such as attending drug or alcohol rehabilitation or seeing a counselor.
Even if the board or an ALJ or court finds that you violated professional regulations, ethics, or responsibilities, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose your license. In many cases, especially for a first offense that isn't egregious, the board will try to impose punishments that will still allow you to practice as an audiologist.
Why You Need the Lento Licensing Defense Team
When your licensing board begins investigating an allegation against you, it can be natural to think it's a misunderstanding you can clear up by simply explaining your side of the story. In some cases, this may be true. But what you say to an investigation or board at a hearing or interview can be misinterpreted and used against you. While you have a duty to cooperate with an investigation, you don't have to willingly incriminate yourself or allow others to twist facts and circumstances.
The stakes are high for you, professionally and personally, during an investigation or hearing. The loss or suspension of your license can impact and even end your career. Even if your license isn't affected, an investigation or adverse finding against you can leave a black mark on your career and professional reputation. Moreover, a hearing is often a formal proceeding using the rules of evidence. It can be challenging to navigate a court proceeding or a consent decree without the Lento Licensing Defense Team protecting your rights. Attorney Lento and his team are well-versed in defending professional licenses, and they can help no matter where you live.
How We Can Help You
If you're facing an investigation or disciplinary proceeding from a licensing board, it isn't something you should try to handle alone. You need an experienced attorney like the skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. The team at the Lento Law Firm has been helping professionals like you across the country through licensing board investigations, hearings, and appeals for years. Find out how they can help you. Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888-535-3686, or contact them online to schedule your consultation.